Seattle Cracks Down On Employers Over Minimum Wage Law | KUOW News and Information

Seattle Cracks Down On Employers Over Minimum Wage Law

Jan 27, 2016

About 150 workers in Seattle received settlement money in the past year because their employer broke the minimum wage law.

That's according to a report out Tuesday from the city's new Office of Labor Standards.

TRANSCRIPT:

The city started enforcing a new minimum wage law last April.

Since then, the Office of Labor Standards has opened minimum-wage investigations on 62 companies.

Office Director Dylan Orr says 14 of those companies have already dispersed back-pay to workers.

Orr: "A lot of employers call us back and say, ‘I had no idea, how can I remedy this as quickly as possible?’ and that's definitely a win-win situation. Then we have employers who, you know, don't want to pay the money that's owed or don't agree with the fact that they're violating."

Orr says the city has collected about $15,000 in back-pay, and is awaiting another $150,000 in unpaid penalties.

The Office of Labor Standards has also given out money to 10 community groups to teach workers about their rights.

One of them is the Fair Work Center. Nicole Vallestero Keenan directs the organization.

Keenan: "Every presentation we've had at least half the room say, 'Wow, my rights are being violated right now, or they've been violated in the past.’"

Those rights include the minimum wage, paid sick leave and not having to disclose criminal history on applications.

Six hundred workers have contacted the Office of Labor Standards with concerns in the past year – a quarter of them about the minimum wage law.